Archives – tom 2017  

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Popular Crystal Ball: 2017 – Islands In The Stream
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Tom, enjoying Havana
Its Sheeranmania bookends might fool you into thinking that 2017 was just as bad a year for Number Ones as 2016. It wasn’t. For a start, very little could be. But while last year saw the charts reeling under the impact of strea[…]

My Pop Year: AUSTRA – “We Were Alive”
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Austra’s Future Politics was one of the first 2017 albums I heard, somewhere in the weeks of dread, defiance and hand-wringing around the Trump inauguration. It’s coloured how I hear it ever since. The title announces it as a ‘political’ albu[…]

My Pop Year: SERGE BEYNAUD – “Akrakabo”
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Serge Beynaud’s Accelerate LP is a danceable feast, showing how Cote D’Ivoire’s coupe-decale is one of those musics which can absorb almost anything, from pop-reggae to trap-style vocal exclamation. It’s potentially exhausting[…]

My Pop Year: JANA RUSH – “??? ??”
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The titles of Jana Rush’s tracks on her Pariah LP have an enjoyable bluntness. “Beat Maze.” “Chill Mode”. “Frenetic Snare.” She’s been DJing and making records for over 20 years, since she was 15. This is her debut full-length. So I s[…]

My Pop Year: KELLY CLARKSON – “Love So Soft”
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Writing about Will Young it was hard not to be reminded of Kelly Clarkson, who likewise showed that the first blush of reality TV idols were the best – in terms, at least, of producing stars you can feel vague but huge affection for. I always w[…]

My Pop Year: SYD – “Know”
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On first listen I liked Syd’s Fin mainly for its Spartan vibe: low-key, late-night R&B synths. Moody and pleasant. My second listen was like my eyes were adjusting to a dark room – songs emerged as ultraviolet blooms. The one that jumped out[…]

My Pop Year: MARA BALLS – “Elävä kivi”
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Not the last Finnophone musician I’ll be writing about, Mara Balls is the rock-name of musician and artist Maria Mattila, who’s done stints in a few Finnish hard rock bands and also ran the Yellow House, an underground venue and cultural space in[…]

My Pop Year: IBIBIO SOUND MACHINE – “The Chant (Iquo Isang)”
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Uyai by Ibibio Sound Machine
There seems to be a lot of music around at the moment involving a fusion of more acoustic – I don’t want to say ‘traditional’ – African musics, or African vocal pop traditions, and electronic production. Of […]

My Pop Year: KEDR LIVANSKIY – “Ariadna”
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One of the great dangers of listening to music from around the world – as you’ll see, it’s a danger I fall foul of a LOT – is a kind of geographical determinism, At home I’m a tourist, projecting my misty sense of a place I’ve never been […]

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